The Emergence of the Africa 8
Ecobank recently coined a new emerging market investment grouping – The Africa 8.
Unlike other emerging market groupings, this one focuses entirely on investment potential going forward within Africa itself. Ecobank analysed all African countries, using 15 different indicators to conclude which were the top 8 African investment opportunities for foreign investors.
The Africa 8
The countries designated as the Africa 8 are:
- Cote d-Ivoire
- Republic of the Congo
The countries were judged on their long term investment potential, and their abilities to drive Africa’s growth, using criteria such as political stability, as well as legal, regulatory and infrastructure metrics.
“These are the countries we think are going to provide the momentum for pulling the continent up, taking their neighbouring countries with them,” explains Angus Downie, head of economic research at Ecobank. “We’re referring to them as the locomotors that will transform the Africa growth story. Everyone’s familiar with Africa rising: that’s been done to death. But this group of eight economies has some unique strengths compared to others on the continent.”
A Diverse Grouping
Interestingly, not every country within the Africa 8 is an obvious choice to the casual observer. Rwanda, Mozambique, Angola and the Republic of the Congo are not often heralded as good investment opportunities, unlike the top achievers in the group, Nigeria, Kenya and Ghana.
Ecobank have stressed though that the criteria for choosing the Africa 8 were focused on the bigger, long-term opportunities represented by each country. An example of this, is the fact that four out of the eight countries have recently emerged from political instability and conflict.
“Political stability is one of the indicators we look at and yes, several of these countries have recently emerged from conflict,” states Downie. “But there are a lot of negative perceptions around Africa that it is conflict-ridden: that as one [country] moves into peace, another moves into war. What we have seen over the decades is that a lot of countries in Africa have moved from war to peace and stability and that the overall trend is to less conflict, as we would expect when a continent develops.”
As Downie further explains, “there are short term problems and policy headaches but the medium term growth story is continuing: the middle class is growing and disposable income is rising.”
Long Term Investments
“Across Africa, the returns you get on infrastructure are very strong: you build more roads, more goods can come to market, you build more schools and hospitals, the workforce becomes better educated and healthier, and they become more productive,” states Downie.
Ecobank’s main reason behind establishing this bloc is to allow foreign investors an insight into which African countries are good long term investments. The only stumbling block presently though, is the problem of accessibility. A prime example of this is the fact that the Republic of the Congo is currently without a stock market. As half of these countries are still in the early stages of reaching their economic potential, Downie suggests investors find themselves local partners within these countries, in order to get true value out of their investments.
“The main thing is that these countries are the locomotors,” says Downie, “and by gaining exposure to them they will provide better returns than going into key markets that everyone is familiar with.”
Ecobank’s establishment of the Africa 8 will allow potential investors to pinpoint good long term investment opportunities within Africa, which otherwise may have been overlooked. This is an important step forward, as it will allow these countries to gain access to valuable monetary resources that will allow them to further their economic efforts, empowering each country, as well as bringing up the standard of living for the citizens.
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Chris Wright, “Africa gets its marketing ploy: Welcome the Africa 8”, Business Day, 4 August 2014. Available at: http://businessdayonline.com/2014/08/africa-gets-its-marketing-ploy-w-elcome-the-africa-8/#.U-hc6vmSxpu